Big day from the Comcast Center today: first we find out about Dalonte Hill, and now we know who Maryland gets in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge. The Terrapins will be hosting Illinois on Tuesday, November 29 for their leg of this year's challenge; the Illini are the first big names on Maryland's schedule, past the crapshoot that will be the Puerto Rico Tip-Off. Also, it's about time: the past two years in the ACC-B10, the Terps made trips to Indiana (when they sucked horribly) and Penn St., two hardly-relevant (at the time) teams on the road. Getting a home game against a legitimate team is a welcome change.
This is a game I've asked for specifically in the past. After the Terps lost to Illinois last year in the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic, I've developed something of an irrational dislike for them. Jereme Richmond - the biggest reason for it - is gone, and so is his heart-on-throat tattoo, but the entire game left something of a bad taste in my mouth about the Illini.
Unfortunately for them, Richmond isn't the only one leaving. Star guard Demetri McCamey and both of their starting post players, Mike Tisdale and Mike Davis, are graduating. That leaves the Illini with only two of their top contributors returning: guards Brandon Paul and D.J. Richardson. Both will be juniors next year, and they combined to average just under 18 ppg last season.
Unfortunately for Maryland, reserve forward Tyler Griffey is back. Remember him? He was the random big man who came off the bench to knock down three three-pointers for the Illini in NYC. He only played in 11 of their 20 Big Ten games and isn't expected to play a much larger role next year, but that pretty much guarantees that he'll go off for 20 points or something when they visit College Park.
The Illini will be a young team next year, one that Maryland might actually have a chance at beating. They're bringing in six freshman this year, many of whom will be to start or at least play major minutes. Given how bad the Terps might be next year, nothing's guaranteed, but this shouldn't be a whitewash. I think.